Taking flight

My daughter and I have just returned home via airplane from a 3-week stay in Massachusetts. While boarding, my daughter asked: “Do you suppose the plane itself actually runs on Dunkin’?” (that’s for you Dunkin’ Donuts fans out there – did you know they have an app now? amazing!). 

We leveraged the fact that remote school was still an option to visit my parents and help out. So the title of this post is intended both literally and figuratively because of the many transitions on my mind right now.

Let’s start with the literal to get our feet under us. These flights, undertaken after I got my second vaccination, were of course the first in a long time. We were so glad to be seeing my parents and brothers after 2 years. But we wondered – what would it be like to fly again with the pandemic? We wondered about it a lot. I’m here to tell you that the answer is that it is exactly the same as before, just with masks. Huh!

Our stay with my parents introduced a new constellation of pleasures and responsibilities. I fit in research meetings, HumBio events, and writing letters of recommendation with doctors appointments, caregiving, crossword puzzles with my Dad, chatting with my Mom, episodes of Doc Martin and Poirot (favorites of both my parents and me) and walks with my 14 year-old through the sultry summer-feeling days (although the humidity nearly did us California girls in). My daughter did her best to explain Minecraft to Nana and Grandpa at dinner and the four of us rubbed along pretty well together. 

But amidst all of this were visible the transitions each of us was undergoing. My daughter is about to graduate from 8th grade, necessitating a shopping trip for a suitable graduation outfit; my parents are navigating health issues; and I’ve somehow finally become an adult in my relationship with my parents, moving from care recipient to offering care (I know – it took me a long time, right?). As if to underline the theme, my daughter and I watched as a group of baby robins made astonishingly quick progress from demanding chicks to fledging in the first two weeks we were there. Literally taking flight. 

You have to wonder: how do they find the courage for that first attempt? For that big transition? Inspiring, right? Especially since our HumBio seniors are also about to begin their own giant transition from college students to…a multitude of identities. As I was musing on the plane about what profound sentiment to express to encourage you all forward, our snack box arrived and I thought, perfect!

Message courtesy of a JetBlue snack box!

Now each of us is transitioning forward from the pandemic in the US. The transitions in life happen whether we’re ready or not; the trick is to flow along with them.

And you know what might leaven everything for you? Some pet pictures! Our go-to when things get heavy. Enjoy :).

Published by Lianne Kurina

I am an epidemiologist, the proud director of the Program in Human Biology at Stanford University, and a very keen horsewoman.

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